World Road Championships: Flying Dutchwoman Marianne Vos defends her title in style

 

florence

She rode out with the No 1 on her back and rode home with her position as the greatest female cyclist underlined, asterisked and writ larger than ever. Marianne Vos bullied her way to a second successive world road-race title here yesterday, able to sit up in the saddle on the home straight and raise her arms in triumph as she coasted over the line to record another stellar triumph.

While there was an inevitability to the finale, this was a tough, gruelling and gripping race – a signature performance for the women's sport in their signature outing of the season – that the Dutchwoman only secured on the final climb of the final lap.

"Vos, Vos, Vos!" screamed the race commentator over the loudspeakers at the finish as she broke away from the Swede Emma Johansson, who had the temerity to replace her at No 1 in the world rankings this season, and Rosella Ratto, the 19-year-old Italian who looks a world champion in the making. Going into the final turn the lead was only five seconds, but once Vos gets clear there is no catching her. The victory margin was 15 seconds.

Lizzie Armitstead's lonely battle to remain in contention after her three British team-mates were dropped soon after the 140km race reached Florence – where the riders embarked on five 16km laps – ended on the penultimate lap. It was a brave if fruitless effort by the Briton, who has had a tough season. She finished 19th, some five minutes adrift.

A year ago it was Vos who beat Armitstead to gold at the Olympic road race in London, and the Dutchwoman's standing as an athlete – there is a convincing case to make that she is the greatest sportswoman of the here and now – was made plain by the reception offered by a home crowd that had gathered in the genuine hope that a strong Italian team could claim the rainbow jersey. Vos received a standing ovation as she crossed the line.

The plaudits quickly followed. "Of all ages and genders," tweeted Mark Cavendish, no mean performer himself, "Marianne Vos is one of the purest bike racers on the planet. So exciting to watch."

As well as her titles on the road, Vos is also a world champion on the track and in cyclo-cross. She has two Olympic gold medals – one on the road, one on the track – and is aiming to win a third on her mountain bike in Rio.

She has now gone one better on the road. Her third title followed an emotional victory on home soil in 2012, a win that ended a run of five successive silvers.

Last year was her golden one, as she triumphed in the Olympics, the worlds and the Giro D'Italia. It sent the 26-year-old looking for a fresh challenge and encouraged her to add mountain biking to her portfolio, which is why Johansson is now ranked No 1 on the road as Vos has limited her appearances this season.

How to stop Vos was the topic that obsessed the peloton from the moment it rolled out of Montecatini Terme. It was the Americans who attacked first on the first climb of the first lap. Then the Italians took over, attacking repeatedly, taking turn after turn.

But nothing rattled Vos. It is a trick of the eye, but she appears to actually pedal less than her rivals, looks to be putting in less effort. At the start of the last lap there she was, tucked behind the leading wheels, a position from where she is rarely beaten.

The three remaining Italians conferred and decided Ratto was the strongest, and should be the one to challenge Vos. But Vos was ready.

"When I saw the sign 'One lap to go' I thought this has to be the moment," she said. And it was.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Powertrain Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I hope you are well. My client based in ...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried